In The Factory, Earthfall have truly captured the mood of disposable excitement and recklessness within Andy Warhol’s NYC ‘Silver Factory’. Peering into this world sculpted out of free-love and amphetamines and wrapped in silver foil and paint, we witness a creative and dynamic way of living where reputations are built on artistic excess.
Yet this is also a world with its limitations. Rebellion against convention can only go so far before it becomes expected, and the dancing here certainly fails to sustain this inventive mood and instead merely reiterates a tired statement made many decades ago. So, as a dance spins around stage while discharging a fire extinguisher, what once promised to become innovative merely melts into a dull rebellion and a tiresome attitude to danger and constantly challenging creativity.
Another problem comes with the work’s representation of free-love. The erotic sinks into the mundane as dancers move in a fitful wave of lumped sexuality, strutting from one side to another in an oxymoronically coordinated freedom. True, this piece is sexy with its gorgeous dancers and suggestive choreography, but it’s also sexless as partners are easily swappable and even easier to forget. Failing to make the transition from conservative relationships to the ‘zipless’, the dancers find themselves bound in an awkward kind of middle-ground, where everything seems to be suggested but nothing much is felt.
The Factory is perhaps saved by its awareness of the fickle nature of beauty and the inevitable fact that shocking statements will always wear thin. Hence, perhaps tediousness is not a criticism we can make of Earthfall’s show, but rather a comment they are making about the era they depict. Chatting into a telephone, Beth Powlesland’s Edie Sedgwick observes that, ‘Everyone was acting so enchanted last year. So beautiful.’ Here, the company exhibits a subtle awareness that even the most revolutionary of cultural movements have their sell-by dates.
However, whatever statements they attempt to make, Earthfall are ultimately trapped within their own beauty. As the beautifully androgynous Rosalind Brooks lifts her shirt in order to echo the iconic picture of Warhol’s scars, her slight frame refuses to let biography and choreography collide. Indeed, this is largely the mood of the whole show. Lacking any sense of long-standing meaning, depth or narrative, this work is perhaps more suited to installation than production and, with its self-conscious repetition and elongated showiness, this is certainly an odd way to honour a man who made the condensed iconic.